Yes, I'm gay. I probably was since the day I was born. On my 21st birthday, I sort of had my debut. I came out to my parents. A little drama from mom, and some indifference from dad. An above-average coming out. Almost perfect.

Nine years later, two weeks before my 30th birthday, I found out... I'M HIV POSITIVE.

And so my story begins... I'm BACK IN THE CLOSET.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Cold Weekend

Last weekend? It was a cold weekend.

Well, no, temperature-wise, it was scorching. Agh. Hello, it’s summer in the Philippines in the era of climate change. What else could you expect?

But still, it was a cold weekend. Cold. Harsh. Cruel. Brrrrr, brrrrr, and brrrrr.

Friday night, I headed off from work, off to an unfamiliar place. I had heard of the place before, but never been there. I did my homework researching how to get there, but figured, since it was near my sister’s place, I would take the same route and wish for luck from the heavens that my logic was right. Fortunately, it was.

I took a short bus trip and a tricycle ride, and I got to the quaint little CafĂ© Juanita and headed inside. Yes, a trike, so what? At least I didn’t get lost. Walking in, I was ushered to the farthest table. Okay, this is it. Another night of socializing for the anti-social like me. Gulp.

Just walking through the restaurant was an experience. Everywhere you looked, you’d see abubots and trinkets, very reminiscent of my packrat of a lola crossed with a shiny drag queen. I don’t think there was one bare inch of space. I’m not a big fan of clutter, and this wasn’t just clutter. This was clutt-est! But hey, it’s not my place, so who am I to complain?

Getting to the table, introductions went around. Some familiar faces, and some new ones. Bloggers. I’d really been out of this blogger’s circle for sometime now. But the occasion? It was JohnStan’s birthday. But other than being a friend, the inside scoop was that someone got me invited because I needed a perk-up after my recent single-ification. Sweet. Cold. Cruel. Cruel, but sweet.

Aside from the birthday, it was also an occasion for us, John Stan’s friends, to meet the boyfriend. The one. A couple? In love? Love?! Gah!... Hehehe, okay fine, I guess I did have a bitter side. But it was under control, don’t worry. I was my usual quiet self, even quieter because I was nursing a cough and a cold. Taste buds were numb, sinuses stuffed, hearing impaired... Argh. Eh wala, eh... Malakas sa akin si JohnStan.

Kare kare, crispy pata, fried lapu-lapu, topped off with sticky toffee pudding… what was left of my tongue did enjoy. From there, I passed on further nightlife. My excuse? I was drugged... with ARVs, of course. But the cold didn’t help. And the long day at work didn’t either. So I called it a night and went home ahead.

The next night, I had a date. A date with an ex. Not what you think. This ex of mine from maybe a decade ago wanted to see me... and introduce his boyfriend. Love? Again?! Gah! What is this, the season to introduce boyfies?! Actually, it was the boyfriend who was apparently pushing to meet. I don’t know what he knew about me that brought this on, but I was game. This was an ex with whom, despite a short relationship and a dramatic breakup, I had successfully transcended into friendship with. Hello?! We’ve been in touch for a decade! That’s something.

I started off on a bad note, being late for the meet. No big deal to them though. Finally, the past and the present met. We headed to Mang Jimmy’s, another must eat in the city. Kare kare again, tapa mix, beef and baby corn, and two servings of sizzling pusit... Pusit? Was he trying to imply something?! Well, I haven’t told this ex of mine about my status. I wanted to, but would rather just tell him first without the boyfie... so maybe some other time.

After the hefty dinner, they toured me around the MWSS compound, where they apparently usually stroll. It was nice that they shared such intimate moments and places with me. Of course, I couldn’t help feeling like a third wheel at the time, and would’ve loved to have a hand to hold as well. Sigh. We then ended up at the foot of the UP Oblation, where we lounged, people-watched, and talked... about everything under the sun... about them, about our past, how we met, why we broke up, how we became friends again… trust me, there was a lot to laugh about when it came to our history. If only, if only, if only I wasn’t wheezing and coughing the whole time. Argh, damned cold again... and cough.

From there, I headed back home, alone this time, as they were heading another way together. It was a few minutes before 9:30 pm. I know because my ARV alarm went off just as I took my seat in the jeep. At least I didn’t have to come up with an alibi for my little watch ringing.

There. Argh. It was a cold and cruel weekend. Cold and cruel for the recently single. I mean, I had a choice not to be there, and I could’ve been bitter about it. But I don’t want to be that way. Couples aren’t out there to rub my situation in. It ain’t their fault. So I shouldn’t be blaming them or taking it against them or anything. If anything, I can truly, truly say that I’m happy for both of the couples I spent last weekend with. Really. Frost my heart... I mean, cross my heart.

So at this point, I’m imbibing positivism... Love. It’s there. I still love it. Love, love, love, love, love. Bring it on. But first, let me... defrost.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

How NOT to Celebrate

I’d been tapping my fingers waiting for mid-April. April 17th. It was to be two years since I got diagnosed with HIV. I always thought I’d treat it as a special day.

Last year, I did have an entry, Happy Positiversary. But this year, as the day came closer, I was having second thoughts. I wasn’t exactly as excited.

Was this really something to celebrate?

April 16th, I had to trek to RITM early in the morning. No choice. I drank the last of my supply of ARVs the day before. I got my meds and hung out with Ate a few minutes as well. My regimen booklet was handed to me as well... it’s this passport-slash-bankbook looking thingy where all the ARVs we get every time are recorded. Apparently, they want us to take responsibility for our own booklets, rather than the old protocol where we’d leave all our booklets with Ate every time. Good luck, hope I don’t ruin it or lose it.

From there, I headed off to work. I rode a bus back to Makati. Nothing special, it was actually hot on the bus, and I fell asleep for most of the trip. When we hit Magallanes, a lot of people got off, including the person beside me and those seated across the aisle from me. Someone walked up from the rear of the bus to take the seat across. And then it started getting weird.

I felt he was looking at me. I had to glance over. It was a guy in a black shirt, nice looking actually. But still couldn’t say for sure if he indeed was looking at me or not, because he had shades on. One reason I hate shades, I never know what someone’s looking at. So anyway, noticing that he’d look away every time I glanced at him, I shrugged it off as nothing.

Ayala turned out to be his stop. He stood to get down, but not before he tapped the headrest of the seat in front of me twice with his fingers. I found it so odd. Was that supposed to mean something? I waited if he’d look back, but he didn’t. Still curious, I drew the curtains aside to see if I could spot him one last time on the street. I did.

I was expecting him to be walking or something, but no. He was standing there, waiting for the bus to pass, looking my way the whole time. I thought to myself, too bad he didn’t make his intentions clearer... I probably won’t ever get the chance to see this guy ever again. The world ain’t that small.

So there. Made it to work, late of course. Oh, but not before getting another pass from a guy on the jeep. Argh. The heavens were taunting me. Fine, so I’m single, but really, must it pour when it rains? Anyway, I’ll take it. The rest of the day was spent at work, plus a dinner meeting for something we’re coming up with hopefully in time for World AIDS Day in December... exciting! No details yet, but the ball has started rolling!

Saturday was gonna be a night. A date night at that. This was someone I had known since before. Had sex on the first date years ago. Wholesome second date in MOA, movie, dinner, walked around and plopped down on the sidewalk for some hours just talking. Simple... simple and nice actually. Then sex again on the third date.

After that, I started avoiding him, mostly because I was dealing with finding out I was HIV positive. He was one of those I advised anonymously to get tested. His persistence to see me again forced me to disclose to him. I don’t remember exactly when I did, but I think it was late last year. Still he was willing to see me. My next reason why I could not see him was that I was dating someone exclusively, which I was.

And now that I am transitioning from a so-called relationship, I have no more excuses. So when he asked to see me, I agreed. Saturday was gonna be a night. The night. The date night.

A date? Big deal?! Well, it was a big deal for me, because it would be my first date since September last year. Yep, that was the last I was ever on a date. Pathetic to think I was actually in a relationship since that time? I know. But again, no regrets. So this was to be a first in 7 months. Kawawa no? Hehe.

So we met in Makati, and watched a movie. I Love Phillip Morris. Not exactly the feel good movie we were expecting. I didn’t know what to think about the part where he gets out of jail by faking his medical records and making it appear that he has AIDS, successfully getting himself into a guinea pig program… and this is supposed to be based on true events?! Toink.

From there, we had dinner at Shakey’s. Penne pasta, a huge salad, and a basket of Mojo potatoes. Yum. Washed down with two pitchers of draft beer? Heavenly. I was bashing him for leaving me to do the eating, while he was bashing me for leaving him to do the drinking. He was actually counting the mugs, forcing me to bottoms up a couple of times just to catch up with him. I, of course, was up for the challenge.

From there, having downed my ARVs. We took a walk along Pasong Tamo to a little open air bar called Obeertime. No, we didn’t go in. We just sat by the pavement across it, talking while watching people pass by. He wanted to take me there initially, but decided on Shakey’s instead, not sure if I’d be comfy in that type of place.

From there, we raided some convenience stores for bottles of water and giant cones of dark chocolate ice cream. Yum. Sat down and talked a bit more. We walked to the next block, which was Buendia already, where we crossed the street to pee... together... in the street. Complete with pee splashing all over each other’s feet. Bwahaha! Not a common thing for someone like me with a shy bladder.

From there we decided to call it a night. Will there be a next date? Well he did ask me when we’d see each other again... So we’ll see.

Sunday was just spent at home resting. The highlight of Sunday came when I happened to open one of my accounts on one of the adult personals sites. I received a message with the subject “I think I saw you.” Creepeh...

Talking about Friday and enumerating every detail of the trip from Alabang, lo and behold, it was from that guy I was riding with on the bus! Bwahaha! I seriously didn’t know what to think... but found myself giving him my number for him to contact me. He had me at “I want a bottom like you.” Hahaha. Haven’t heard from him yet, but plan to disclose anyways before follow-up meet of any sort. Ya know, laying all the cards out onto the table...

So there. My weekend has been busy busy busy. Was it all in celebration of my second year? Hell, no.

Well, it wasn’t that I was suddenly getting all negative about the day I was told I was HIV-positive. It’s more like... okay, I celebrate 1 year, I celebrate 2 years, I celebrate 3... it feels like I’m counting down or something. Hello?! I plan to live much longer, ya know! At this point, I know this HIV thing isn’t a death sentence, so eventually, I’m sure I’ll get tired of counting. So I thought to myself, maybe I should stop counting now, and just live, live and live. So I did. No celebrations. I just lived.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Stupid Love

Love works a different way in different minds. The fool it enlightens, the wise it blinds. – John Dryden

Love. I lost it. Nope, nothing sudden or new. It’s been going on – or off – for some months now. It just took me a while to really muster the guts to say it out loud. I just always never knew how to answer how “we” were. Because I really never knew. I was always the last to know. Amazing how it takes other people to drum into your head and make you feel how stupid you’re looking already. And every time, I’m made to feel that way, I can only smile and shrug and take it. I’d say that I was okay. I was. I really was... I think.

Was I being stupid? Stupid, the dictionary says, is being slow of mind, or lacking intelligence or reason. Falling in love makes one stupid? How could that be? Well, definitely, I deny being slow of mind, because after all, I did get to where was, didn’t I? Lacking of intelligence? Well, I have that accounted for. Because when it comes to love, intelligence is sooooo overrated anyway. Maybe lacking reason. Well I think love can justify itself. If it is for nothing more than the unadulterated state of mind that love can bring, that’s reason enough. Now, if anyone can devise a foolproof way of rationalizing and concretizing love into whys and hows, well then you can gouge my eyes out.

If being “stupid” like this was supposed to be wrong, then maybe I should know what I should be doing right now. Drop everything, pick up where I left off, go straight, get married, have three kids, and live in a house with a picket fence? Maybe I should do that, huh? Well, you know my answer to that one. Many others have made a hobby out of being stupid and they have several different reasons. Trust me, I’ve seen much worse.

But for me, if it means sucking all the passion out of life, putting a little more of myself into it, not letting anyone get more out of my life than I do, enjoying the life that I have, having the life that I want, even if it means listening to my heart, dancing to the rumba beat, putting my heart on the line for someone I love, even for a small moment, for the simple reason of who-knows, could-be, and we’ll-never-know, well, then I’d rather be stupid. Wouldn’t trade it for anything. And you can quote me on that.

I don’t think I was being stupid at all. Brave, maybe, and God knows what I wouldn’t give to be even a fraction braver, albeit more “stupid”. Giving is best if it is given willingly. And I gave willingly.

Yes I don’t deny that sometimes I realized that I was going way off my path for something that seemed so perfect yet so unattainable. Sometimes, I can’t help but submit to destiny. Sometimes, the only thing that drives me is the hope, the anticipation, the passion, but still, that doesn’t make it pointless to pursue. I can only dream to be like that, a person driven by true passion, fueled by pure hope.

But ultimately, in love, as in anything, the decisions are mine to make. The philosophies of look-before-you-leap and better-safe-than-sorry are much overrated, and may have better applications than love. Use those mottos for sex, not for love. More importantly maybe, I’d rather thrive on live-in-the-moment and no-regrets.

I have no regrets. Lost a love? Well, I can still love him... as a good, good friend... no regrets. Not even for the months and months of not really knowing where I stood... no regrets. Not even for the months and months of believing I was dating someone exclusively, only to realize that I was not being exclusively dated myself... no regrets. Not even after months and months of only wanting to be intimate with one person, and barely even getting to first base... read: yes, months and months without sex is sooooo unlike the bitch I was built to be... no regrets. Not even months and months off the dating scene and now finding myself chucked back on the meat rack... hell, I have a dates lined up starting tonight... so why regret? Hehehe.

If anything, I’m actually glad to have gone through this. I’m glad to realize that I am capable of making the sacrifices that a commitment can demand from me. I’m glad to know that life hasn’t left me too jaded, and that I do still have at least this little to offer if and when the right guy comes along. I'm glad that I still have the gall to worry about love, which means I'm not doing so bad HIV-wise.

Too much a martyr? Hahaha. Too idealistic? Maybe. Too mushy? Indulge me. Too stupid? I wouldn’t admit it.

Honestly, I believe one to be more stupid if he lets the chance to experience true love pass him by. It’s not true that love is blind, or stupid for that matter. With all due respect to John Dryden, that may just have been the rationalization of some pathetic person who wished not to admit he could fall into such vulnerability. Love always has its reasons, mysterious as they may be.

How about you? Go back to the times that you felt love made you stupid. Did it really? Think about it. But even better, don’t think. Feel it.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Kind of Kindness

If there is any kindness I can show
or any good thing I can do to any fellow being,
let me do it now,
and not deter or neglect it,
as I shall not pass this way again.

- William Penn

Got a text from Papi yesterday, asking for help. Not for him. He wanted to help someone out who was confined at the RITM. Didn’t mention who the person was, what the name was, or what the findings were, but I think what was important was that this person needed help. Papi made clear that it wasn’t a big expense, but that the person was really hard up and could use some help.

I remember how E and I did it for Baby Nathan. We purposely didn’t want to give any cash or hold any cash ourselves from donors, just to eliminate any doubt of where that cash might go. So much intrigues and politics that you gotta deal with just to help a person. But if it makes for less controversies, then I’m all for it.

So I asked Papi for a list of what exactly was needed, which he texted shortly after. I took the initiative to do some research as to what exactly all this stuff was, and passed by a Mercury Drug to ask how much each would cost. Here’s the list.

D5w is some sort of technical term, which I found out stands for 5% dextrose in water. A 1 litre bottle costs PhP 119.75.

This is that tube set for dextrose and intra-venous lines with a clip thingy that’s used to control the flow of the liquids or medicines into the veins. A set costs PhP 338.25.

Insyte (Gauge 22)
I found out this is Peripheral Venous Catheter, whatever that means. When I think catheter, I think “Ouch”. This costs PhP 36.00.

Celecoxib (200 mg)
Web says this is a sulfa non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. It costs PhP 30.00 each, and he needs 60 pieces.

These are tablets to correct vitamin deficiency. It costs PhP 17.00 each, and he also needs 60 pieces of this.

Aside from these, Papi also mentioned he needs minor stuff like plastic micropore tape, and some daily necessities like food, drinks and actually, some cash for daily expenses.

So there. I’ll try to do what I can. I’m sure Papi’s rallying the troops on his end as well. Like I said, I gave the list for those who would be more comfortable giving in kind. If anyone out there would be willing to help out, let me know. Or if you’re ever in RITM, please coordinate with Ate Ana.

Any help you can give would go a long way, especially if we pool together for this. Give. Spread the word. Pray even. Thanks in advance, on behalf of he or she who needs it.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Shrill Thrill of April

April is almost halfway through. Argh. Was I unconscious or something? Where did it all go? Well I guess it can be attributed to all the long weekends that we’ve been having, thanks to Holy Week and National Heroes Day, which gave us 4- and 3-day weekends respectively. So much free time, but oddly enough I haven’t been able to blog. Not really a case of not having anything to blog about. Just wasn’t in the mood I guess. Or busy maybe. But time to recap.

Holy Week started the very first day of April. I was actually supposed to be out of town, in Puerto Galera to be exact, to help out with the Take the Test project, spearheaded by Jethro, an advocate and friend of E. The team had been cramming for it the previous week, they more than me, to get everything set. I could only help out with what I was moderately good at, which is words and numbers.

At the last minute, E told me constraints in the budget meant they’d have to cut some of the team from being on site. Of course, priority would be given to the nurses, medical technologists, and peer counselors. It was a little sacrifice for me, towards the success of the project. But a bit of a relief as well, because I dreaded the Holy Week travel rush and the need for kapal-muks had I played GRO for the event. Whew. It would’ve been the first Holy Week ever that I would be spending outside Metro Manila, too.

So instead of going out of town, I stayed in the city. I always treasure the peace in the city whenever everyone’s out town. I love it. But that weekend was not at all boring.

While Holy Thursday was spent at home, there was also planning going on for a Good Friday thingy. What was up? A photo-tour of Manila! So with me and 2 of my pozzie kids, and Papi with 2 of his friends, the 6 of us braved the summer heat to trek through Luneta and Intramuros, and have lunch in Binondo with a couple more pozzie friends catching up with us.

Armed with hardly anything more than a camera each, we soon succumbed to the afternoon heat, not managing to continue the walk in the afternoon. We would’ve been able to squeeze in more sights probably had we started earlier in the day. It was just too hot. So we spent the afternoon indoors just hanging out. I left for home past 10 in the evening. It was a truly fun, tiring and wholesome day spent with friends. Not bad for a Good Friday.

Most of Black Saturday was spent resting, while Easter Sunday saw me having lunch with the family. I finally got to taste the Papi-recommended Crispy Dinuguan of Kanin Club. Absolutely yummy. I also tagged along to do an ocular of the La Mesa Eco-park. For me, there were just too many people there, and it didn’t live up to my expectations of a peaceful and quiet place to spend a day. I was just itching to go home and sleep.

The day was saved by news from E that the Take the Test project was a huge success in Galera. Aside from the voluntary counseling and testing conducted, he said it was the HIV seminar held daily on the beach front that made a huge impact. He says we reached even more people than the million-peso-budgeted efforts of other NGOs and even the DOH. Whoa... I can’t wait to hear more about how it went.

After just four days of work, came another long weekend. Friday was National Heroes Day, another non-working holiday. Something was up. Should I go or not? Fine, someone helped convince me to go. It was to be another pozzie gathering Friday night.

Unlike previous ones, this was going to be at someone’s residence, and not with my usual pozzie group. So even more than usual, my wallflower mode was so on. It was really just a chill night, with some fab singers, some flashy dancers, some overly okray acts, and a whole lot of candles all around. And with more than twenty of us there, things were bound to overflow. If we started out in the living room, but by the end of the evening, most of us were outdoors in front of the house and seated along the sidewalk. Good thing the neighbors didn’t complain.

Although I was my usual quiet self, I did get to meet a lot of new pozzies I hadn’t known or had never seen before. I mean, yeah Papi and some of my “kids” and friends were there, and some I’d just met before or knew by name, but a lot of others I had never seen or been introduced to.

I think my most nega moment of the night was when one of the RITM doctors showed up. I didn’t really know who he was, but heard people calling him “Doc”. Nope, I wasn’t nega just based on having a doctor there. There was just one point in the evening that he called my attention upon seeing me reach for a bud of chicharon, saying I shouldn’t be eating it because it could cause high bood pressure. Seriously?

My mind was reeling. Excuse me? Have we even been introduced? Why exactly was I the only one whose attention you called, when I wasn’t the only one eating chicharon in the first place? Do you have my medical records with you? Did you see something alarming? And while you’re at it, maybe you should go the extra mile and point out every one of us who was either drinking alcohol or smoking, right?

If he was kidding, it wasn't a funny delivery at all. And if he was serious, hello?! There was just some sort of conflict between the professional and personal encounters of being a doctor. Anyway, I was able to keep my mouth shut. And yes, I still ate that chicharon. Bah!

So there, I had my gimmick quota as early as Friday night. I spent most of Saturday at home, highlighted by dinner and coffee with BFF, which I absolutely enjoyed. It was sort of us catching up, and me sending him off as well because... Wheeeee! Basta, I won’t be seeing him for a while because he’ll be... uhm... busy. Wheeeee!

And Sunday was spent dreading yet another Monday once again. Okay, I guess now I know where all the weekends went. Aside from my new addiction... agh, yes I admit… I’m B.I.T.C.H and I’m addicted to an online game... huhuhu... seems like I’ve been pretty busy after all. Some shrill but so much thrill... So far, that’s been April!